Monday, August 23, 2010

Yesterday was overcast with a cool wind, a harbinger of autumn? I never thought I would live to see the day when I wanted summer to end but the heat this year has been so fierce as to be almost unbearable, at least for oldies like me.
I’ve long felt that computers in all their manifestations are anti-social and it would seem, in America anyway, they have become even more so as computer geeks take to what they call minimalist living, discarding all their possessions and taking to the road armed solely with laptop, I-pad and Amazon kindle: getting rid of possessions; cutting down on commodities that can be replaced by digital counterparts. Electronic book sales tripled between 2008 and 2009, while the growth of physical book sales slowed, according to the Association of American Publishers.
Meanwhile, compact disc sales have declined by roughly 50% from their 2005 levels worldwide, while global revenue from digital music has nearly quadrupled in the same period, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.
Virtual homelessness
Twenty-seven year old Chris Yurista, a DJ from Washington, DC, cites this trend in digital music as one reason he was able to hand over the keys to his basement apartment over a year ago. “You have to really make sure you have backups of your digital goods everywhere” he states. "It's always nice to have a personal sense of home, but that aside - the internet has replaced my need for an address. I don't feel a void living the way I'm living because I've figured out a way to use digital technology to my advantage," he explained. Mr Yurista feels his digital possessions can now live on indefinitely with little maintenance and he is not the only digital vagabond.
The DJ has now replaced his bed with friends' couches, paper bills with online banking, and a record collection containing nearly 2,000 albums with an external hard drive with DJ software and nearly 13,000 MP3s.
But there is something even more terrifying; absolutely horrific in fact, shades of Doctor Frankenstein and crazy scientists. To quote Dr Anders Sandberg Oxford Research Fellow, ‘It's the idea that we can copy or transfer the information inside the brain into a computer into a form that can be run on the computer.’ The 'ultimate replacement' he says, our hard drives may one day contain the most important digital replacement of all - digitised replicas of our own brains.
Dr Sandberg believes we could be living on hard drives along with our digital possessions in the not too distant future, which would allow us to shed the trouble of owning a body.
The concept is called "mind uploading", and it suggests that when our bodies age and begin to fail like a worn or snapped record, we may be able to continue living consciously inside a computer as our own virtual substitutes.
"It's the idea that we can copy or transfer the information inside the brain into a form that can be run on the computer," said Dr Sandberg.
He added: "That would mean that your consciousness or a combination of that would continue in the computer."
Dr Sandberg says although it's just a theory now, researchers and engineers are working on super computers that could one day handle a map of all the networks of neurons and synapses in our brains - and that map could produce human consciousness outside of the body.
He says if a complete map of our brains was uploaded to a computer and a conscious, digital replica of ourselves was created, we could, in theory, continue to live forever on a hard drive along with our MP3s and e-books.
Can you think of anything more horrifying? I can’t.

1 comment:

Lewis said...

"That would mean that your consciousness or a combination of that would continue in the computer."
But whoever has the computer owns you.